Back in late March, I was a medical student in D.C. studying for exams. Today, I am a 23-year-old living with my parents again. Despite being in school 5+ hours away, my bedroom in upstate New York has become my new classroom. Being at home has its perks: I get food from my mom again, and I can wear pajamas all day if I wanted to (not that I actually do that). However, there are many things that don’t feel right about being a medical student who has no connection to the medical world right now.
I packed up my new backpack, laptop, notebooks and pens early in the morning. The anxiety was palpable as my housemates and I dressed up to make our best impressions on our first day of medical school. This was unfamiliar territory. I had become so accustomed to my hectic routine as a college student by day and a nurse in the emergency department (ED) by night, but what would life be like as a “professional” student?
Many honor their cadaver with the designation of being their “first patient.” Yet, the term “patient” implies the receipt of some benefit in the form of treatment or improved well-being. Throughout our time together, I treated my cadaver with nothing but careful and thoughtful desecration. Just several months earlier I had promised to do no harm. Yet, as my inexperienced hands repeatedly sliced through layers of tissue, I could not help but feel like an intruder stealing something that was never meant to be mine.
This column is for the non-traditionals, like me. We graduated with a goal, worked with a purpose and returned to school with a dream. I left health care for more health care; I switched stethoscopes on my first day of medical school.
Blue latex feels slick against / my hands. I grip my instrument tightly, / surprised breath escaping me as / the scalpel quickly reveals
Many medical schools today offer wellness programs that aim to strengthen the ability to cope with the demands of curricula through techniques such as mindfulness. However, although these efforts are well-intentioned, they have yet to completely resolve the issues of isolation. It is critical for students and faculty to explore innovative methods to tackle feelings of isolation, such as through the use of improvisational and comedic theater.
We shuffled out of the room, but before closing the door, I could hear her bangles ringing as her hands fell with defeat into her lap. Behind the closed office door, Dr. Altman gave us his three-word assessment: “She’s just crazy.”
I refreshed the page over and over again, thinking that a different number would magically appear instead, but it never did. I then picked up the phone to call my mom. I choked out the words, “I failed out of medical school.”
The night before my white coat ceremony in mid-September, I took a drive around Worcester to clear my head. The windows were down, and I could feel the breeze on my face as my car picked up speed along Route 9.
I tripped into the practice clinic room at 12:05 p.m., cradling my cold coffee and explaining to my preceptor that, despite being a first-year medical student, I did not own a stethoscope yet.
This house was once full of life / Layers of warmth and affection. / A fireplace, the heart of all
If gross anatomy has taught me any topics, they are the sheer beauty and capability of the human body.